Media, Darling: Ceri Marsh

Ceri Marsh is a writer and editor. She was FASHION Magazine‘s editor-in-chief for eight happy years. Along with Laura Keogh, she recently started her own digital property, Sweet Potato Chronicles, a site dedicated to food and family. She is also the health editor for The Kit, a new beauty and health digital magazine, as well as the co-author of two international best sellers: The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Decorum and Code Red and The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Grace Under Pressure. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children. We welcome her to the fourth floor.

Twitter: @spchronicles

What was your favourite class in high school?
English, of course. And not because high school English classes are so great. I think the kinds of teachers you interact with in those classes are just different. When I was going through a very clichéd 15-year-old’s angst, my 10th grade English teacher actually interrupted another class I was in to hand me a copy of Catcher in the Rye and tell me to re-read a passage he thought would help me. And it did. I don’t think you hear about chemistry teachers doing that kind of thing.

How did you get your start as an editor?
I made the leap from writer to editor when I got hired to cover a maternity leave at The Globe and Mail. It was a risk – on both sides – because I didn’t know if I’d like to handle another writer’s copy or if I’d be any good at it. But I liked it right away. And while I don’t think I’m an intrusive editor (I don’t re-write copy like some people I know…), I do think that editors are authors in a way.

If you weren’t a Media, Darling, what would you be doing right now?
What I really love is to make things. Maybe a baker? But I understand the hours are terrible. Maybe I could just be the boss of the other bakers…

Pitching or follow up: phone or email?
Email, please! Like most people, I’m working on a few things at a time and dealing with things on email means I can choose when to switch gears.

We know irrelevant pitches, calling you the wrong name and eight follow-ups are no-no’s; what else should publicists avoid doing?
I’m amazed by how much packaging arrives to deliver a little tiny jar of cream or sachet of tea. It bothers me so much!

I’m not saying anything that hasn’t already been said by your other subjects, but not personalizing emails or pitches makes me disregard them. And I think I’ve missed out on some good stories because I feel like I’m getting spam, not a real pitch.

There must be some training that is given to most PRs that says they should be neutral/friendly above all. But the publicists whose clients I have done the most interesting work with break through this strange constraint. I wish more PRs felt comfortable enough to crack a joke or be self deprecating. It makes the process, which can be awkward, more fun.

But honestly, what most PRs are great at is being organized and prompt. Many, many writers and editors are neither and most of us would be screwed without PRs.

Sunrise or sunset? Sunrise, because I have two small kids. Luckily I’m a morning person by nature.
Scent? Coffee in the morning. Particularly if it hits me while I’m still in bed and my husband is busy at the espresso machine.
Cookie? It’s not really a cookie but… the macarons from LaDuree in Paris. 
Flower? Peonies.
Ticklish? Very. I can barely make it through a pedicure.
Shower or bath? Bath.
Film? Oh, these kinds of questions paralyze me! So, right now I’ve been thinking about George Cukor’s Philadelphia Story with Katherine Hepburn at her most glorious.
Crush? Jon Hamm.
First job? My first real job was filling in for a maternity leave position as fashion editor at The Globe and Mail. A crash course in every way.
Inspiration? Another paralyzing question. I’m amazed when I watch how hard and relentlessly my kids work to master new skills. I think as one attains a certain amount of success it’s possible to start to be failure-averse. And having recently changed my professional life so drastically, I’ve been humbled by how long it takes to feel proficient, let alone good, at a new job. What does Malcolm Gladwell say, 10,000 hours?